Our View: ‘Over our dead bodies’ isn’t a negotiating point
Easement: A right, such as a right of way, afforded a person to make limited use of another’s real property.Utter the phrase “private property rights” in some quarters, like down the hill in western Nevada County, and one can almost hear the metallic click-click of countless shotguns being primed.Now we’ve got our own little private property conflict brewing near the west shore of Donner Lake, albeit we don’t know of any shotgun play having taken place.However, at least one party in the dispute over the use of a historic stock trail that ascends Donner Summit has thrown out a dramatic “over our dead bodies” decree. The confounding bit to all this is that the “dead body” guy isn’t the property owner. No, he and more than a few other folks want use of the trail because it’s a historic route. And that it is. The trail section in question was, over the years, part of the Dutch Flat-Donner Lake Toll Road, a road used by Southern Pacific to support construction of the Trans-Continental Railroad, and, as Highway 37, the predecessor to Highway 40.So yes, the historic pedigree of what is now a “trail” is pretty much a given.However, the road, trail or whatever is out there now runs through someone’s property. It has the proper easement, put in place around 1955 when Nevada County took it over from the state. So technically, a right of way is afforded for the use of the trail. That is if you happen to be a cow. The easement was put in place so that cattle could be moved from winter to summer pasture.In the meantime, the property owner who inherited this road, trail or whatever, has had hikers, four-wheelers and other wayward types wandering on his property. We’d venture to guess that nary a heifer has been spotted.Said property owner asked Nevada County to abandon the stock trail easement in order to get a handle on the people looking for the path, and in so doing wandering past his cabin. If it was left to that, the move would be questionable considering the historic aspects of the route. However, the property owner has pledged to provide a new route through his property for a trail. It would be specifically for public use – could eventually be connected all the way to the Summit – and removed from his cabin.And not to dismiss the historic aspects of the route, the property owner has said he’s open to having an annual guided hike on the historic trail.To us, that sounds like a generous compromise. The alternatives – “dead bodies” and over-protective shotguns – are just foolish.
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First, thank you for the quick notes, some so quick that the breaking news we’d been sold had barely made it online. I read a handful of well-wishes, what’s-going-on, you-OK emails and texts while still…